Hebrews 4:14–5:10 comment (0)
September 28, 2006
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Hebrews 4:14–5:10
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
When we become Christians, we receive forgiveness. That, however, does not mean we become sinless or perfect.
Neither does it mean sin is unimportant nor that we can sin without consequences. Unhappily we Christians all sin from time to time. We shouldn’t sin but we do. Certainly none of us should sin as we do. Yet, as a result of what Jesus has done as the Son of God, we Christians can confess our sins and receive God’s grace and mercy. God wants us to confess our sins daily and to receive daily forgiveness.
Where We Confess (4:14–16)
The Hebrew Christians who received the Epistle to the Hebrews were severely tempted to return to the religion of their ancestors. The writer urged these Christians to consider several factors, which show the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood to that of Aaron.
(1) Jesus is a great high priest. No Old Testament priest is called “great,” only “high priest.” (2) Jesus’ greatness is seen in His ascension into heaven into the presence of God the Father. (3) His greatness is seen in the uniqueness of His Person; Jesus unites in His Person both undiminished deity and genuine humanity so He can bring people to God. (4) He understands and sympathizes with our human weaknesses because He Himself endured all the physical limitations of human flesh yet without succumbing to moral defection. Consequently, since we have such a great High Priest, we Christians can come boldly, with confidence, to Him who is both sovereign and benevolent. In so doing, we will find mercy and grace to meet our needs.
Why We Confess (5:1–6)
Jesus’ priesthood, though similar in some ways to the priesthood of Judaism, is distinctively different. Like Aaron, Jesus was appointed by God. The office of high priest was a divine appointment and could not simply be taken up because one desired that office. Just like Aaron, Jesus was called by God to the office.
Unlike Aaron, Jesus did not offer sacrifices for Himself. Unlike Judaism, in which the high priest comes from the Levitical order and the family of Aaron, Jesus was appointed by God according to the order of Melchizedek.
Melchizedek, who is mentioned only twice in the Old Testament (Gen. 14:17–24; Ps. 110:4), was both a king and a priest. Jesus is also a Priest on a throne. In addition, Jesus is Priest forever. Other priests have their ministry and pass away but Jesus’ priesthood abides forever. He has no successor.
There are only two priests in the order of Melchizedek — Melchizedek and Jesus. So Melchizedek in the Old Testament pictures Jesus as an eternal Priest-King.
The similarities between Jesus and Melchizedek are two — both were priest-kings and both were appointed directly by God. Consequently, when we Christians need to confess our sins, we confess them to Jesus, our Great High Priest who also is our King.
Why We Can Confess (5:7–10)
Being a priest according to the order of Melchizedek also demonstrates the genuineness of Jesus’ humanity.
He prepared for His high priestly ministry during the days of His ministry on earth. From birth to death, He experienced the sinless weaknesses of human nature. He experienced hunger and thirst, as well as fatigue. He faced temptation and endured persecution. By means of these experiences, Jesus lived His earthly life by faith in His Father’s will.
His experiences, such as John 12:27 and Gethsemane, drew a pattern into which other experiences of Jesus’ life fit. By these, He learned what it means for us to trust and to obey God.
No matter what circumstances we meet, Jesus understands deeply and clearly our needs and He helps us. We need never doubt His desire and ability to sympathize and strengthen us. We need not hesitate in calling upon our Great High Priest-King.